Satya’s alarm goes off. Her phone buzzes against the hard surface of the bedside cabinet. It’s dark outside. I groan, roll over and go back to sleep. When I wake up the sky is a flat grey. Later, looking into the garden I see how much the tulip shoots have grown. A few slivers of blue cut through the cloud.
These days I tend to look forward to waking up and beginning the day, but this transition time has always been a dangerous point for me. I know that if there are things weighing on my mind it is at this time of day, between waking up and getting up, that these worries become inflated. I remember mornings in the past where I would lie in bed and my mind would create whole stories around these worries….
The difficult conversation I had to have with my boss would become twice as difficult in my imagination. The mistake I made in my work the previous day would become proof of my own uselessness… That second one is a self-fulfilling truth, the more useless I felt – the more useless I would act.
On these mornings I would come down the stairs like the character from some children’s book called The Grump. Huffing and puffing, and grumbling my way to the kettle and the first cup of tea of the day.
The rest of the day would go one of two ways, depending on what I did next. If I dwelt in these stories and added energy to them, then I wasn’t going to have a good day. If I put my attention on something real (instead of on my imagined woes) then my mood would shift and I could begin to enjoy the day.
This is where small stones comes in. Writing a small stone asks me to look into the world at something real, and pay attention. I start to notice things that I haven’t seen before: the pattern of the fuchsia splatter on the inside of the white hellebore, a few yellow primroses nestling in the front garden, the goldfinch at the feeder. All of these things bring me out of my self and into the world.
Sometimes this is enough. To put my attention on something real is enough to shake me out of the blues and settle into the day. Sometimes it’s not enough.
When the small stone practice doesn’t shake me out of my worries, there’s something else that might. If I can become curious, without judgement about what is going on for me, I can start to untangle the worries, and they start to lift. “Is there a message in this anxiety?” I wonder, “Am I upset about someone not keeping their word, because I haven’t kept my word recently?”
These sorts of questions can often lead to insight, and when I get an idea about where the feelings are coming from, I can usually accept them more easily, and then, in time, let them go.
In our e-courses we use small stones and other forms of written reflection to look both into the world and into ourselves. We are curious about what is happening in our own minds, and what is happening out there in the real world.
Having done this sort of thing for a while now, my grumpy mornings are much less frequent, and when they appear, I can usually shake them off, either through having some sense where their roots lie, or by looking into the world.
If you’d like to spend time looking deeper into your self and your place in the world, sign up for one of our Writing Our Way Home e-courses now – Journalling Our Way Home, Writing Towards Healing or my new Creative Boost package The Way of Getting Things Done. They start on Friday and as soon as you register we can send you out your materials. We look forward to working with you.
photo by Mike Legend